BT man announced as new Manchester College boss

Article published: Wednesday, August 1st 2012

Former BT executive John Thornhill has been appointed chief executive of the Manchester College, taking over from outgoing boss Peter Tavernor who will retire in August.

Outgoing Manchester College Principal Peter Tavernor

Thornhill will become overall boss of the Manchester College Group, which boasts a £180 million turnover and 5,500 across the UK including several contracts to deliver education in prisons, after over a decade under Tavernor’s control as chief executive and principal. College vice-principal Jack Carney will take over as Principal of the college itself, and will report to Thornhill.

Tavernor’s term in office was characterised by a series of major expansions, including the merger of MANCAT and City College in 2008, and often stormy relations with unions. Tense industrial action occurred throughout 2010 when staff were made to accept significant pay cuts, longer hours and fewer benefits while the institution’s management voted themselves significant pay rises, including a current salary of £187,000 per annum for Tavernor.

Incoming chief executive John Thornhill

Tavernor also enjoyed close relations with local Labour figures as an election agent for Blackley MP Graham Stringer in 1997, and his wife represents Moston on Manchester City Council. Deputy council leader Sue Murphy is chair of the board of governors, and a vocal advocate for the college.

Previously chief executive officer at BT’s business services arm BT Engage IT, Thornhill left the position after less than a year after a period of restructuring activity that saw a series of job cuts. Thornhill has also been a non-executive director and Finance and Human Resources Committee member for Manchester Metropolitan University.

In a statement, Sue Murphy said she was “delighted to announce the appointment of John Thornhill as Chief Executive of The Manchester College Group.

“He brings with him the expertise and experience needed to lead the largest and most dynamic Further Education College in the country and a growing Group that has key involvement across the educational spectrum” she added, pointing to the College’s involvement in secondary school provision, prison teaching contracts and part-online “blended learning”.

Richard Goulding

More: Education, Manchester, News, Unions and workplace


  1. Will he be an anti union derecogniser in Taverners ‘ shoes …?

    Comment by Mark Krantz on August 2, 2012 at 10:32 am
  2. Thank god he has gone! He has hurt so many people.

    Comment by Colin Ball on September 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm
  3. I hope he has a short and extremely unpleasant retirement – that is exactly what he deserves for the way he has treated his staff.

    Comment by Joe Public on October 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm
  4. Firstly; Joe Public – your comment says a lot about you as a person!! Absolutely sick!!!

    Secondly; thank goodness for strong leadership under Tavernor which has limited redundancies, especially in difficult economic times when the public sector is being hard hit. Many colleges have large deficits and are struggling to continue. As a member of staff, I’d rather take a reduction in holidays, work for a college in a strong financial position and have a job!!!

    Comment by College employee on December 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm
  5. For College Employee – your comments are uneducated!

    We work for The Manchester College with no pay rises, while Tavenor gets massive rises just before retiring. Now they want us to put a half a million pounds into their pockets through enrollment blags while we get nothing. Teachers are turned into trainers so that they can reduce their pay by half! If you need a job, you would be better off shelf stacking at Tesco.

    Comment by Bullied Sick on May 10, 2013 at 9:18 pm
  6. I actually work for the college Bullied Sick so you cannot say my comments are uneducated! In recent years I have received my incremental pay rise and have also noted that for some low paid staff such as cleaners that a living wage was brought in too! But as our lovely Chancellor has introduced a pay freeze for our sector, yes I probably wont receive another for a while (not managements fault). It is extremely naive to direct such hatred as some do on here to leadership when the public sector is under attack, with cuts left right and centre!! Not surprisingly we are pushed to meet enrolment targets…because students pay our wages! No students, no college!! So wise up…maybe Tesco would be a better option for you or would you get annoyed with the manager if they asked you to do add on sales and only paid you minimum wage??

    Comment by College employee on July 12, 2013 at 3:11 pm
  7. I have been a teacher at the college for quite a few years. When I started I was amazed at the amount of bullying that went on. Tavernor was a tyrant and sycophant. The terrible contractual changes caused many staff to become ill while he along with his cronies – many of which are still holding senior positions, lined their own pockets. We all know that keeping a job and having regular income is of great importance, economic times are bad – and many teachers who work there stick it out accordingly. However, this does not excuse the outrageous behaviours displayed by senior managers. I sincerely hope that contracts are revised and that Mr Thornhill is not just paying lip service to the UCU while holding a knife behind his back. Cynical – I know but you get that way working there!

    Comment by College Teacher on August 9, 2013 at 6:57 pm

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